Russia is like a rotten board we see on the side of our house: the deeper we excavate, the more widespread we discover the rot to be. We hope the damage isn’t irreparable nor the repairs too costly.
This week, we learned Russia may have trolled the FBI with spurious intel that ultimately led to former FBI director James Comey’s July pronouncement about Hillary Clinton’s email.
Earlier this month–shortly before President Trump fired him–James Comey told Congress he felt “mildly nauseous” at the suggestion that by publicly speaking about Hillary Clinton’s “carelessness” in using a private email server as secretary of state, he may have influenced the November election outcome.
According to the Washington Post, we now have deeper insight into Comey’s rationale for violating FBI protocol prohibiting commenting on closed cases with no pending charges.
Before Comey’s July announcement, the FBI obtained a dubious Russian intelligence document claiming to cite email communication between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in which Lynch supposedly assured a Clinton campaign staffer the Justice Department would not scrutinize Clinton’s questioned email server. The FBI did not know where the document came from nor whether it was reputable. The document did not include the email in question but described its contents.
The Post reported many U.S. intelligence officials, believing the document contained either poor intelligence or was inauthentic, said:
“[The document was] junk and unreliable and based on multiple layers of hearsay.”
Agency officials attempted to verify the document’s legitimacy through searching the email in question, but found nothing. They also interviewed Attorney General Lynch, who stated she never communicated with the Clinton staffer.
However, the document apparently affected Comey who felt he needed to go public about the Clinton email server case to preempt any accusations of collusion or favoritism. He did this without notifying Lynch. So, in the midst of the most heated general election in recent memory, Comey stepped forward to criticize Hillary Clinton’s electronic handling of classified material. Some argue this helped Donald Trump clinch the presidency.
The New York Times reported on the document last April, but did not characterize it as a document coming from Russian intelligence officers, and did not question its validity.
The Times reported:
“The document, which has been described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.”
Both the Post and the Times stated Director Comey feared Wikileaks might leak the document and undermine the public’s view of the Justice Department’s integrity.
No wonder Comey felt “mildly nauseous.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Featured image from YouTube video.